DIY Ideas to Upgrade Your Sofa
Jun 08
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Turning a Sad Sofa into a Sleeper Superstar

I’ll never forget the day my wife and I brought home our dream sofa – a barely used secondhand West Elm beauty that we scored for a fraction of the retail price. Finally, we thought, an end to the flimsy mattresses and crossbars jabbing into our backs whenever we had guests stay over. Boy, were we in for a rude awakening.

As soon as we maneuvered the couch into position and tested out the pullout bed, it was clear this was no upgrade from the sad, sagging sofas of my youth. The mattress dipped in the middle, tacoing up on the sides, practically swallowing us whole. It was like a bad case of déjà vu, taking me right back to the saggy hand-me-down couches at my grandma’s house and the ones my college roommates and I used to crash on.

I realized then that there must be something people can do about this sleeper sofa conundrum. And that’s when the quest began to turn our investment into a true sleeping sanctuary.

Swapping Out the Sad Mattress

The first order of business was addressing the pathetic excuse for a mattress that came with the sofa. I knew from experience that a simple mattress topper or sheet of plywood wasn’t going to cut it – we needed a complete mattress overhaul.

After scouring online reviews and trying to decipher the cryptic jargon of mattress types, I landed on the Milliard 45-Inch Memory Foam Replacement Mattress. Now, I’ll be the first to admit this mattress isn’t going to compete with the fancy, multi-layered foam marvels you find in regular mattresses. But compared to the sad sack we had, it was a night and day difference.

The 3-inch base foam layer and 1.5-inch memory foam topper provided way more support and comfort than the sorry excuse for a mattress that came with the sofa. And while it may not be the creme de la creme, the reviews indicated it was a significant upgrade that would actually allow our guests to get a decent night’s sleep.

Giving the Mattress a Much-Needed Boost

Now, even with the new mattress, we weren’t quite out of the woods yet. That pesky middle sag was still causing issues, threatening to swallow up any unsuspecting sleeper. But then I stumbled upon the Meliusly Sleeper Sofa Support Board, and it was like striking gold.

This ingenious little device is designed to stiffen up a sagging mattress, and it folds flat for easy storage when the bed is tucked away. Goodbye, sketchy plywood sheets and hello, sweet dreams! The metal rim of our sofa bed frame was already pretty tight, so the 48-by-48-inch support board spanned nearly the entire area, providing a broad, sturdy backing to prevent that dreaded middle sag.

The best part? We can actually fold up the whole couch with the support board still in place, making it a breeze to tidy up when not in use. Some reviewers even reported being able to keep the board under the cushions when the bed is folded up – talk about a space-saving hack!

Overcoming the Hump of Perception

Now, you’d think with all these upgrades, we’d be the toast of the town when it came to guest accommodations, right? Well, not exactly. When my father-in-law came to stay, his first impression was, “Why did you get rid of the bed?” Apparently, a souped-up sleeper sofa just didn’t compare to the good old-fashioned queen bed we had before.

My wife and I tried to mount a convincing campaign that this was actually an upgrade – two upgrades, to be exact – but our poor father-in-law wasn’t having it. He spent the next two weeks stationed in the sofa bed, constantly reshuffling the pillows and insisting that the old bed was far superior.

It wasn’t until later visits from various other houseguests, including my own parents, that we realized we may have actually struck a winning formula. To our surprise, they all slept on the upgraded sofa bed without a single complaint!

The Surprising Sleeper Sofa Solution

As it turns out, the key to a successful sleeper sofa may not lie in the most high-tech, luxurious mattress after all. According to the experts, IKEA’s trundle-style sleeper sofas have a different mechanism than the traditional pull-out variety, and many people have been surprisingly happy with them.

Several of my Wirecutter colleagues specifically endorsed the Friheten model, noting that while the mattress itself may be a bit stiff, a simple mattress topper or gel foam layer can work wonders. And the best part? No more wrestling with that awkward pullout frame – the Friheten’s trundle-style design makes it a breeze to use.

Of course, the downside is that those thick mattress toppers can be a pain to store when the bed is not in use. But a few colleagues mentioned using space-saving vacuum bags to keep the bulky bedding out of sight.

The Sofa Sleeper Saga Continues

While we may have found a winning formula for our own sleeper sofa woes, I can’t help but feel like this is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s still so much to discover when it comes to upgrading these ubiquitous pieces of furniture.

I’m curious to see how other sleeper sofa models from brands like Crate & Barrel and Article stack up. And who knows, maybe there’s an even better DIY solution out there waiting to be uncovered. One thing’s for sure – I’m not giving up on the quest for the ultimate sleeper sofa anytime soon.

In the meantime, if you’re in the market for a new sofa and want to future-proof it against any potential guest accommodations, be sure to keep these upgrades in mind. A little bit of elbow grease (and a few hundred bucks) can go a long way in transforming a sad sofa into a sleeper superstar. Sweet dreams, my friends!

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